She sits on a stool behind the door of the women’s bathroom at the back of the bar. The floors are the color of dark mud, and the stall doors look beaten up by years of neglect. It is a tight fit: she and I are within a hug’s reach while I wait for one of the two stalls. After using the bathroom, I wiggle past her knees and the rolling cart that she has stocked with liquid soap bottles in various scents. She squeezes the orange soap into my hands and I turn to face the spotted mirror above the narrow sink. A hand-written cardboard sign is propped against the back of the rusty faucet, announcing that she is Edith and that she would appreciate any tips for her services of giving soap and paper towels to visitors of her bathroom.
Above the sign, a small wooden shelf hosts reused plastic containers, filled with remedies for assorted problems that could be encountered by a bar-goer: rubber bands in multiple colors, individually-wrapped mints and candies, single doses of aspirin. She has stocked each item thoughtfully, and I assume, with her own money.
I am most touched by the container that now holds assorted sizes of tampons, imagining how fortunate one would be to find Edith’s bathroom, out of hundreds of establishments, in the midst of an unexpected period crisis on Bourbon Street.